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Friday, August 22, 2008

Warmup Ride Number 2

One of the great Franconian summertime traditions is that of the "Bierkeller" -- an outdoor beer garden. From the name it sounds like it might be pub deep underground, maybe where the beers were fermented and aged, but in truth they usually tend to be on top of hill. It does have to do with the storage of beer -- tunnels were dug into the side of the hill to make artificial caves providing a constant temperature and where the beer was aged. They are on the side of a hill because it is easier to dig a horizontal tunnel into the side of hill than dig a vertical one. After a while, the brewers realized that rather than haul the beer into town, they could sell it on site and people would come to escape the heat and bustle of the town. Thus was born the bierkeller.

A bit south of Bamberg, near the village of Hallerndorf is a hill that has three very nice kellers at the top. It is called the "Kreuzberg" or "Cross Hill" -- there is a church at the top as well. Two of the kellers, Rittmayer and Lieberth have breweries in the village of Hallerndorf. The third keller,  Friedel,  is from the nearby village of Schnaid.  Friedel Keller recently installed their own brewing system and now brew all their own beers, which is the first for a bierkeller, as far as I know. It seemed like a good excuse for a visit.

We decided to take the train to the village of Eggolsheim, about a 15 minute ride, and then start biking.

Friday waiting for his train to come in

The train station for Eggolsheim is actually in Neuses and the village itself is about 2km eastward. There just happens to be a brewery there, Schwarzes Kreuz, so after the dusty train ride we decided to wet our whistle. The last time I had visited this brewery was a number of years ago and the beer was not very good, but recent reports had it better so it was worth checking out.

Brauerei Schwarzes Kreuz -- the "Black Cross" was "Red Cross" for our dry throats

The beer turned out to be quite nice and at € 1.60 for a half liter, just about the best deal around.

So we took off towards the Kreuzberg. Along the way will would ride thru the village of Schlammersdorf which is the home of the very fine Brauerei Witzgall. Unfortunately, Thursday is their "Rest Day" -- ruhetag in German. So no Witzgall for us today.

Friday "Schlammed" in Schlammersdorf by a closed brewery

Next stop is the village of Hallerndorf. I knew that one of the breweries, Lieberth, closes the pub in the village during the summer and just servers their beers at their two kellers -- one on the edge of town and one on top of the Kreuzberg. So I wasn't surprised to see it closed, but I had expected to make a stop at the other, Brauerei Rittmayer but it turns out they were closed for renovations. Three closed breweries in a row -- not a good sign!

So, our thirst unquenched we proceeded to ride up the the hill. My GPS does give some elevation information and it appeared to be about a 400 ft rise. Not much for Lance Armstrong, but our legs are much older and weaker. However, we made it almost to the top -- there is a place where the paved road changes to gravel so the last 25 ft of incline we walked.

Right at the top you come to Friedels Keller with their new brewery front and center. They had seven beers on tap and we tried three of them -- A nice helles, a dunkel with just a hint of smoke and a very nice Zwickelbier. I had a second of the Zwickel.

Friday at Frielel's new brewery

Next door to Friedel is the Lieberth Keller. We shared a quick keller beer there that was tasty, but nothing special. Right next to Lieberth is the Rittmayer Keller and they had both a kellerbier and a rauchbier so we tried both. I thought the smoke in the rauchbier was a bit too harsh, not quite "ashtray" level, but closer to that than I like. The kellerbier was a typcial Franconian kellerbier, unfiltered, not too carbonated and a little bit of hops in there as well.
Rittmayer Keller on the Kreuzberg

There are two roads up the Kreuzberg. If you take the other one down, it leads to the village of Stiebarlimbach, home of Brauerei Roppelt and Roppelts Keller.  I had visited the brewery before, but never the keller, so we took the back way down (going much faster than we did going up) and stopped for one last beer. We had saved the best for last as this was the best beer of the day.  If we didn't have a train to catch I could have stayed for two or three more. Unfortunately, in our hurry to ride back to Eggolsheim to catch our train (which runs only once an hour) I forgot to take a picture. I guess I'll just have to go back.  Total miles: about 22

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